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The Ramsgate background to the story of Joseph Fleming

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  • The Ramsgate background to the story of Joseph Fleming

    I have been asked what I have found out about the Ramsgate background of the Fleming family so please find this below:-

    From "The Ripper in Ramsgate" by Christopher Scott

    Chapter 3 - Mary Kelly's Boyfriend.

    In the introduction I made brief mention of Mary Jane Kelly, the last of the "canonical" victims who died on 9 November 1888 in Millers Court, Spitalfields. The story of the Kelly murder and the efforts that have been made to establish even basic facts about her life and background are far too complex and far reaching to go into in detail here. At the risk of blowing my own literary trumpet, a previous work of mine does just this and looks at the murder and the attempts to find out more about Kelly in detail ("Will the Real Mary Kelly...?" ISBN: 978-1905277056).

    I will attempt to summarise what we are told of this woman of mystery. The source for the alleged information about Kelly is the police and inquest evidence of her last long term companion, Joseph Barnett. Kelly and Barnett had met and lived together since Easter of 1887. However, their domestic bliss had been shattered some days before the murder, on 30 October, when Barnett had left on account of the presence of another woman, allegedly a prostitute, to whom Kelly had been giving shelter. According to Barnett's version of her life, Kelly was of Irish birth, from Limerick, aged about 25 years, whose family had brought her to Wales when she was young. At the age of 16 she had married a miner named Davies who had died after a few years in an explosion. She moved to Cardiff where her cousin led her into a "bad life," and in about 1884 Kelly moved to London. She moved into a house in the West End and claimed to have lived "like a lady" and had a brief stay in France with a gentleman. After her return she ended up in the East End and her life as a Spitalfields prostitute. I must emphasise that this account is purely based on the version of events that has come down to us from Joseph Barnett. Not one of these alleged facts has been verified by any researcher from the available documentation. If some of the claims made by Barnett are true - for example, that she was legally married to the man Davies - then the only logical explanation is that her true name was NOT Mary Jane Kelly, in which the case the chances of finding any solid information about her seem to be vanishingly small.

    This lack of information and the subsequent theorising about Kelly's identity have added to the mystique of this last victim. A certain romantic aura has been created around this young woman. She is seen as the youngest, the prettiest, the most ill used of the Whitechapel murderer's victims and has become the canvas on which many elaborate and speculative theories have been drawn. In his evidence Barnett gave details of the previous men in Kelly's life after she came to London. Prior to meeting Barnett she was allegedly involved (whether romantically or for convenience cannot be known) with a man whose name Barnett gives as Morganstone. We should not be surprised that as with so much in the Kelly case absolutely nothing of substance has been discovered about this man. However, in the case of the other man, Joseph Fleming, we get a rare glimpse into the real events behind Kelly's life. For it is the man Fleming about whom a substantial amount of detail has been found and it is he, indeed, who provides a link to the town of Ramsgate.

    What does Barnett tell us about Fleming? In his testimony at the inquest he said: "She (Kelly) told me that in Pennington Street she lived at one time with a Morganstone, and with Joseph Flemming, she was very fond of him. He was a mason's plasterer. He lived in Bethnal Green Road. She told me all this, but I do not know which she lived with last, Flemming used to visit her." A previous landlady of Kelly's, a Mrs. Carthy (or McCarthy) of Breezer's Hill, has this to say of Kelly's time with her: "when she left the place (she) went to live with a man who was apparently in the building trade and who she (Mrs. Carthy) believed would have married her." It seems likely that not only did Fleming have strong feelings for Kelly (if he is, indeed, the man in the building trade mentioned) but these sentiments may well have been reciprocated. Julia Venturney. a resident in Millers Court at the time of Kelly's death, testified as follows at the inquest: "Deceased (Kelly) said she was fond of another man named Joe who used to come and see her and give her money. I think he was a costermonger and she said she was very fond of him." Apart from Barnett there is no other "Joe" known to have featured in Kelly's life, so this may well refer to Fleming, although the reference to his being a costermonger does raise concern. However, it appears that all was not sweetness and light because Venturney also testified that this "Joe" ill treated Kelly because she was living with Barnett.

    Now to Fleming himself. His name appears in the available records under the spellings of Flemming and Fleming, but as his birth was registered under the latter form, that is the one I shall adopt. He was born in Bethnal Green in 1859, the son of Richard and Henrietta Fleming. His mother's maiden name was Henrietta Masom and his parents had married in Lambeth in 1842. Joseph was the only surviving boy in a family of four - he had an older sister Jane (born 1857) and two younger sisters, Mary Ann (born 1863) and Jessie (born 1868). Two other sisters appear to have died young - Henrietta (born 1846) and Sarah (born 1849) as well as an older brother William (born 1856) who also disappears from the record. Joseph followed his father's trade, as Richard Fleming is also listed as a plasterer, and it is through his father that we find the connection with Ramsgate, for Richard Fleming was born in the town. Richard was born in 1821 and the earliest mention of the family occurs in the 1841 census:
    St. Lawrence Street, St Lawrence, Kent
    Head: Richard Flemming aged 46 - Baker
    Wife: Mary Flemming aged 45
    Children:
    Richard aged 20 - Baker
    Alfred aged 9
    By 1851 things had changed considerably. Richard's aged father is listed as a pauper in the Minster Workhouse:
    Richard Fleming aged 58
    Pauper
    Former baker born Ramsgate.
    Richard Jnr. had by this time married and moved to London. He and his family are listed in 1851 as follows:
    7 Fellows Street North, Shoreditch
    Head: Richard Fleming aged 29 born Ramsgate - Plasterer
    Wife: Henrietta Fleming aged 29 born Camberwell
    Children:
    Henrietta aged 6 born Shoreditch
    Sarah aged 2 born Shoreditch

    In 1861 the family is listed as follows:
    60 Wellington Street, Bethnal Green
    Head: Richard Fleming aged 39 born Ramsgate - Plasterer
    Wife: Henrietta Fleming aged 40 born Camberwell
    Children:
    William aged 5 born Shoreditch
    Jane aged 4 born Shoreditch
    Joseph aged 2 born Bethnal Green

    In 1871 the family were at the same address:
    Head: Richard Fleming aged 49 born Ramsgate - Plasterer
    Wife: Henrietta Fleming aged 49 born Camberwell
    Children:
    Jane aged 14 born Hoxton
    Joseph aged 12 born Bethnal Green
    Mary Ann aged 8 born Bethnal Green
    Jessie aged 3 born Bethnal Green

    By 1881 Joseph had left the parental nest and we will follow more of his life later. His father, Richard Fleming, died in Shoreditch in 1894 aged 72. His mother, Henrietta, lived on until 1912 when she died in Shoreditch aged 90.

    However, back to Ramsgate! Although Joseph's father, Richard, left for London when young, his uncle, Alfred Fleming, stayed in the town. His addresses in consecutive census years are as follows:
    1851: Alfred, listed as a journeyman bricklayer, is a lodger in King Street. He lodges in a public house called the Plough, run by George Star.
    1861: Alfred has married and has a family. He and his wife Sarah live at Castle Cottages, St Lawrence. They have three children - Clara aged 10, Henry aged 5 and Sarah aged 2.
    1871: The family still live at Castle Cottages. Alfred and Sarah have two more children - Alfred aged 7, Ellen aged 3 and a grandchild, Ernest aged 1.
    1881: The family have moved to Finsbury Road. Two more grandchildren are listed - William aged 8 and Maud aged 11 months.
    1891: Still at Finsbury Road, the family have acquired further grandchildren: Edith aged 7, George aged 5, Francis aged 3 and Hettie aged 2.
    1901: Alfred, now widowed, is living with his daughter and son in law at Hardres Street.
    Alfred Fleming died in Ramsgate in 1903 at the age of 70.

    So what happened to Joseph Fleming, Mary Kelly's former lover? The story is both mysterious and intriguing. Four years after the Whitechapel murders, in 1892, Joseph Fleming was admitted to the Stone Asylum, the City of London asylum near Dartford, Kent. Some two and a half years later, in February 1895, he was transferred to Claybury Hospital at Woodford Bridge in Essex. He was still at Claybury when he died on 28 August 1920. His age given at death was 65 but he would actually have been 61, being born in 1859. His death was registered under the name of James Evans, so how can we connect this man with Joseph Fleming? His records while he was a patient at Stone Hospital list his mother as Henrietta but the confirmation comes from Fleming's death certificate which gives his original name. The death certificate in full reads as follows:
    "28 August 1920 at Claybury Mental Hospital, Urban District.
    Joseph Fleming, otherwise James Evans.
    Male, 65 years.
    Of City of London Union Infirmary.
    Previous address unknown. Chargeable to Bethnal Green, a dock labourer.
    Cause of death, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, 6 months, 13 days
    P.M. Certified by F. Paine, acting Medical Superintendent, Claybury Mental Hospital, Ilford, 1 September 1920."
    Fleming is listed at Claybury Asylum in the 1901 census as follows:
    Pauper Patient:
    James Evans aged 45
    Single
    Dock labourer
    Born Bethnal Green
    Lunatic

    There is one further, albeit tentative, possible window into Joseph Fleming's whereabouts close to the time of the murders themselves. This identification hinges on whether by 1888 Fleming had already adopted the name James Evans under which he was later confined. In the Admissions register for the Whitechapel Union Infirmary for 1888 there are two very interesting entries:

    23 May 1888
    Name: James Evans
    Age: 28
    Address: 16 F Block Royal Mint Street
    Status: Single
    Trade: Porter
    Condition: Unsound Mind
    Discharged: 27 June 1888 (To Workhouse)

    3 July 1888
    Name: James Evans
    Age: 28
    Address: 16 F Block Glass Street
    Status: Single
    Trade: Railway Porter
    Condition: Insane
    Discharged: 9 July 1888

    The difference in address is puzzling. With such a distinctive premises number (16 F Block) it seems unlikely that Evans would have moved within the short time between 27 June (his discharge from the first admission) and 3 July (his second admission) to a different street but exactly the same house number. The location of both streets make them feasible candidates. Glass Street is in Bethnal Green, off Heath Road and Royal Mint Street is, in effect, the western continuation of Cable Street. It is also not stated in the records what happened to Evans when he was discharged, despite being diagnosed insane, on the second occasion. Whether this James Evans is one and the same as Joseph Fleming who knew Mary Kelly must remain, for the moment, an open question.

    There remains the issue of the address of Joseph's mother, Henrietta. In the 1891 census she is listed living with one of her daughters:
    123 Lever Street, City Road
    Head: Henrietta Fleming aged 69 (Married) born Camberwell
    Daughter: Jessie aged 23 born Bethnal Green - Brace machinist
    At this time Joseph's father, Richard, was an inmate at the Holborn Union Infirmary.
    In 1901, after Richard's death, Henrietta is listed as follows:
    220 Chatham Avenue, Shoreditch
    Head: Henrietta Fleming (Widow) aged 79 born Camberwell
    Daughter: Jessie aged 33 born Bethnal Green - Brace machinist
    Grand-daughter: Henrietta Finch aged 25 born Bethnal Green - Cork factory
    At the time of Joseph's confinement at Stone her address is listed on his records as 261 Nile Street.

    The question remains, of course, as to why Joseph Fleming was admitted to mental hospital under an assumed name, a name which he retained for nearly 30 years until he died. It is apparent that his real name was known to the authorities, as this was listed on his death certificate. It would also be of great interest and relevance to find out the exact nature of Fleming's mental condition that caused his admission and his confinement for the rest of his life. This could perhaps be found in any surviving records from Stone or Claybury and it is my hope to actively pursue research into these records in the near future.

  • #2
    Originally what became Ramsgate was just a tiny fishing settlement right on the coast and the more important partner was the inland village of St Lawrence where the ancient church was. Gradually with the rise of Ramsgate as a resort it spread and absorbed St Lawrence, which is now part of the town.
    Interesting there is no agreement even locally as to how the name should be spelt - you will see it as St Lawrence and St Laurence in almost equal measure.
    Below is a link to a 1930s description of the village where Joseph Fleming's father came from with some period photos
    http://my-ramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/20...nce-c1930.html

    Comment


    • #3
      Is this the 6 foot plus Fleming who was living at the Victoria Home?
      I am going from memory but that one was found to be called Fleming rather than Evans virtually as soon as he was admitted. He had been picked up by the police, presumably acting 'mad'.
      I seem to think that this tall Fleming came from a different Fleming family from the one that had been located in Welington Street (now Cyprus Street). I went to Cyprus Street but the relevant house is no longer there - althoigh most of Cyprus Street is very attractive and 'intact'.
      As I said I am going from memory here.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Edward Stow View Post
        Is this the 6 foot plus Fleming who was living at the Victoria Home?
        I am going from memory but that one was found to be called Fleming rather than Evans virtually as soon as he was admitted. He had been picked up by the police, presumably acting 'mad'.
        I seem to think that this tall Fleming came from a different Fleming family from the one that had been located in Welington Street (now Cyprus Street). I went to Cyprus Street but the relevant house is no longer there - althoigh most of Cyprus Street is very attractive and 'intact'.
        As I said I am going from memory here.
        The tall Flemming was aka James Evans and was the Cyprus St/Wellinton St Flemming too as this document I posted shows:

        http://www.jtrforums.com/showpost.ph...9&postcount=47

        Comment


        • #5
          good

          Hello Chris. Thanks for posting all this. Good work.

          Is there any evidence that would put him in an institution during any of the canonical killings?

          Cheers.
          LC

          Comment


          • #6
            One small clarification re the address mystery raised by Chris Scott (below). The Artisans Dwellings where this JE lived was between Royal Mint Street (to the N) and Glasshouse Street (to the E). Glass Street, Bethnal Green is a red herring.


            “23 May 1888
            Name: James Evans
            Age: 28
            Address: 16 F Block Royal Mint Street
            Status: Single
            Trade: Porter
            Condition: Unsound Mind
            Discharged: 27 June 1888 (To Workhouse)

            3 July 1888
            Name: James Evans
            Age: 28
            Address: 16 F Block Glass Street
            Status: Single
            Trade: Railway Porter
            Condition: Insane
            Discharged: 9 July 1888

            The difference in address is puzzling. With such a distinctive premises number (16 F Block) it seems unlikely that Evans would have moved within the short time between 27 June (his discharge from the first admission) and 3 July (his second admission) to a different street but exactly the same house number. The location of both streets make them feasible candidates. Glass Street is in Bethnal Green, off Heath Road and Royal Mint Street is, in effect, the western continuation of Cable Street.”

            Comment


            • #7
              Here’s the relevant Goad:

              6A8037DE-4153-432B-A62E-2ACBD09B9034.jpeg

              Comment


              • #8
                I wrote a couple of posts in 2009 about Glasshouse St. The short-lived thread is here:

                https://forum.casebook.org/forum/rip...-1888#post2227

                The most interesting point, I guess, is that the dwellings in Glasshouse St were only about a third of a mile from Breezer's Hill, where Mary Kelly once lived.
                Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                "Suche Nullen"
                (F. Nietzsche)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                  I wrote a couple of posts in 2009 about Glasshouse St. The short-lived thread is here:

                  https://forum.casebook.org/forum/rip...-1888#post2227

                  The most interesting point, I guess, is that the dwellings in Glasshouse St were only about a third of a mile from Breezer's Hill, where Mary Kelly once lived.
                  Ideed, and furthermore, the PB there had replaced the old Blue Anchor Yard courts where Joseph Barnett had been born and where John McCarthy had lived. Small world, eh?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                    I wrote a couple of posts in 2009 about Glasshouse St. The short-lived thread is here:

                    https://forum.casebook.org/forum/rip...-1888#post2227

                    The most interesting point, I guess, is that the dwellings in Glasshouse St were only about a third of a mile from Breezer's Hill, where Mary Kelly once lived.
                    Thanks for the link, Gareth. On the OS map you provided, you will see Darby Street just to the W of Blue Anchor Yard. In 1861, the family of Margaret Sullivan ( the future Mrs Crossingham) were living there.

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